We’re not even going to try to tease you into reading this blog post to the end to find out the answer to the question: Can a data recovery emergency be completely prevented?backblaze Drive life

The answer is no. Hard disk drives, RAID arrays, and servers fail every day for a variety of reasons. It has been found almost 5.1% of drives are affected by mechanical failures in the first year of ownership, but 20% fail after 4 years. That figure doesn’t include theft, natural disasters, or corruption from viruses.

However, you can take steps to minimize the risk of a hard drive crash and a data recovery emergency. Keep reading if you want to find out how.

Treat hard disk drives with care.

You wouldn’t believe how many external hard disk drives are recovered using physical data recovery techniques. Don’t put your external hard drive or laptop in positions where it can fall, don’t drop it, and, if you’re traveling, use a well-padded case to transport your external hard drive to minimize the risk of shock damage.

Protect your network.

Viruses and Malware can cause hard drive crashes, database crashes, and data loss. Using up-to-date network security methods not only can help protect your company’s, and your customers’, important data from theft, it can help ensure network continuity.

Protect your PC or server room with climate control.

Hard disk drives only have a certain number of read-write cycles before they inevitably die. But certain factors, including excessive heat or dust, can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your hard drive or the drives in your RAID server.

For home computer users, the computer’s stock fan is typically enough to keep the hard drive cool for everyday use. If you’re overclocking your PC or tend to keep your home office extremely warm, you may want to consider additional cooling methods to protect your hard drive.

Server rooms must maintain proper climate control to keep the delicate machines in good working order and prolong the life of the drives in the RAID arrays. Overheating can cause the drives to crash, leading to a data recovery emergency.

Know what to do when a hard disk drive fails to boot.

If your hard drive makes clicking, grinding or whirring sounds, power down immediately. This indicates that mechanical failure has occurred, or is about to occur. This requires physical recovery of your data in a certified clean room environment by a professional data recovery service.

If you try to boot your drive under these conditions or extract the data from a failing drive yourself, you could cause permanent, irrevocable damage, rendering your data irretrievable.

Swap out aging hard drives.

With repeated use, the magnetic heads that read the data from the platters of a hard disk drive can wear down. If the heads stick to the platters, you’re facing mechanical damage to the drive.

You can avoid this by swapping out hard drives at the first sign of a problem, including frequent corrupted files or a drive that takes longer than usual to boot.

Always use RAID Level 1 or higher.

Mission critical, enterprise-level RAID servers of level 1 or higher feature built-in redundancy. Even if 1 drive in an array goes bad, you can access the data through the redundant drives and perform a hot swap to replace the failed drive.

When one drive in a RAID array fails, though, it puts strain on the other drives. Cascading failure and complete data loss could be eminent. Avoid a data recovery emergency by swapping out failed RAID drives immediately and choosing a RAID level with built-in redundancy to protect mission critical data.

Backup data in three different places and formats, and test your data backup recovery process.

As we mentioned, it’s impossible to completely prevent a hard drive crash or data recovery emergency, but one thing you can do to increase the odds is back up your data in multiple formats, and then test that data recovery process so you know your data backups work when you need them.

Data recovery emergencies, if not handled properly, can ruin a company’s reputation and even put a company out of business. Data loss can cost individuals or businesses thousands of dollars. While a data recovery emergency is not completely preventable, you can reduce the risk with the proper care and the right mindset to maintain your hard disk drives and protect your data.